Towson is enjoying its first 4-0 start since 1986 and has not lost since Oct. 20 – a streak that spans eight games. But that does not mean that everything is gravy for the team.
The Tigers' 35-17 victory over North Carolina Central last Saturday was not cemented until freshman running back Darius Victor ran 10 yards into the end zone with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter. During a conference call Monday morning organized by the Colonial Athletic Association, coach Rob Ambrose was asked about his biggest concern thus far.
"Maybe we got a little spoiled," he said. "We've had such success, you start to slide away from the things that are most important and understanding your own personal mentality and your own group mentality. This has been a great opportunity for us to refocus ourselves before we get into league play. When it's 49-7 and you're only playing a half of football because you're pulling guys out of the game, you tend to start falling into those old habits of thinking you are somebody. But we dumped a bucket of cold water on our heads starting in the second half and played our kind of football, tough, physical, blue-collar football and walked out of there with a win. So it's a good problem to have, but I don't want to go back there again."
After committing two turnovers in the first three contests, Towson committed three turnovers (two fumbles and one interception) against the Eagles. And the defense surrendered season highs in both first downs (20) and passing yards (292).
The gaffes on both sides of the ball chafed at Ambrose.
"We did as a good of a job as possible of making mistakes, and it didn't matter what side of the ball," he said. "We turned the ball over more times than we had previously put together and penalties and mental errors. With all that being said, we found a way to rally ourselves and find a way to get a win six hours from home. So it's pretty great that we had an opportunity to make all those mistakes in a game and it's something to teach and learn and grow from while still surviving to get a win. So it was a good day all the way around, and someone once said that if you're not learning, you're dying. We're definitely learning."
Still, the Tigers are 4-0 and moved from No. 4 to No. 3 in the most recent Football Championship Subdivision poll as announced by The Sports Network. It's the first time the program has opened the season with four straight victories under Ambrose, who is pleased with the start.
"When it comes to the end of the year, you have to pile up wins to have your opportunity to keep competing in the postseason," he said. "4-0 versus any other number is the perfect number, and it doesn't really matter how you get it. We had this conversation with the team, that some really good, storied programs in football have team goals – and I've heard a lot of them – and a lot of places have one team goal: to score one more point than the opponent. As long as you do that, you're going to have some good win-loss numbers. We've been fortunate to put up some good numbers on both sides of the ball, but the only numbers that count are 4-0, and it's nice to be in that position moving forward."